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Couple in Pickup Saved by their Trailer's Safety Chain

| Photo: Magic Valley Paramedics
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Daniel Rufiange
Towing safety measures are strict, but they can save lives - as an Idaho couple realized yesterday

Because of advances in safety and available equipment, it’s extremely safe for folks to tow a trailer. But sometimes those precautions pay off in unexpected ways. A couple of vacationers in Idaho can attest to that.

The stunning images shared by the Magic Valley Paramedics show an RV on its side on an overpass, with the pickup truck that was pulling it dangling from the end of the trailer's safety chain. Below the occupants of the vehicle, a ravine and certain death if not for the chain.

The accident occurred on the Malad Gorge Bridge over the Snake River on Interstate 84 in southern Idaho. I’ve actually visited that area, and in several places the river sits far below the level of the road. Cliffs and ravines are common in the area.

The first person to arrive on the scene of the accident feared the worst as he approached the wreckage. Trucker Rod Drury said he felt sure he would see a crushed vehicle at the bottom of the ravine. But lo and behold, the pickup was hanging over the side, dangling from the end of the safety chain.

Inside were the 67-year-old driver and his 64-year-old wife, both from Garden City, Idaho, and their two small dogs.

An Idaho State Trooper arrived, followed quickly by other rescue workers; together they anchored more chains between the pickup and Rod Drury's heavy truck.

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The rescue operation
The rescue operation | Photo: Magic Valley Paramedics

A rescue team then rappelled down to the truck, attached the occupants to harnesses and brought them back up to the road. The couple suffered minor injuries, and the dogs were not injured.

“This was a tremendous team effort that took a quick response and really showed the dedication and training of our community of first responders,” said Capt. David Neth of the Idaho State Police District 4 in Jerome. “This is something we train and prepare for, but when it happens and people's lives literally hang in the balance, it takes everyone working together, and then some.”

The safety chain is mandatory in most U.S. states. Here, the safety chain is required by Transport Canada. In Quebec, for example, here's what the SAAQ requires regarding the chain: “If you are driving a trailer that is not equipped with an independent braking system to stop it in case of separation, you must use a safety device (chain or cable) connecting the trailer to the towing vehicle. This device must be directly attached to the towing vehicle. It must be strong and secure enough to keep the trailer connected to the vehicle if the coupling system breaks.”

The safety chain is also required by Transport Canada.

Daniel Rufiange
Daniel Rufiange
Automotive expert
  • Over 17 years' experience as an automotive journalist
  • More than 75 test drives in the past year
  • Participation in over 250 new vehicle launches in the presence of the brand's technical specialists